Carl Frampton takes a giant step by outpointing Scott Quigg
Amid scenes of passionate celebration and deafening noise, Carl Frampton retained his IBF junior featherweight title and claimed the WBA version from Scott Quigg with a split-decision victory in their blockbuster unification clash Saturday in Manchester, England. Two judges scored it 116-112 for Frampton; the third had it 115-113 for Quigg.
Barry McGuigan, manager and promoter of Frampton, had predicted that it would feel like Belfast inside the Manchester Arena and it certainly did. The Quigg faithful were drowned out by the Northern Ireland fighter’s rabid fans, who cheered wildly from the moment he entered the ring.
After all that excitement, it was a cautious beginning. In the lead up to the bout each fighter claimed they would win in style but the pattern indicated they respected one another as both fenced for position and adopted a careful approach.
Frampton, rated No. 3 by THE RING at 122 pounds, then began picking up rounds. He kept his opponent almost exclusively on the end of a sharp jab and backed him up. Quigg simply could not locate the required distance and threw relatively few punches.
In the second half of the fight, Quigg, rated No. 2, woke up. Sensing the rounds were slipping away, he let go with powerful shots to head and body and his tormentor’s movement slowed. The Englishman wobbled Frampton with a cluster of hooks in the ninth and his power was telling.
In Round 10 the crowd got what they were waiting for as the two world class operators stood at center ring and unloaded with smashing blows to the head and body. Quigg fought his heart out and he was now having real success.
Quigg’s persistence was rewarded in the 11th when a huge right hand took Frampton’s legs momentarily. The shot extracted an immediate cost as Quigg followed up and looked, by far, the stronger man as the bell rang with the crowd in an uproar.
The 12th promised to be electric but Quigg spent too much time looking for the home run and that allowed Frampton the opportunity to go back to landing pot shots. Both men embraced at the end and the pre-fight bad blood disappeared.
Frampton (22-0, 14 KOs) was an established star entering fight. He has been developed and nurtured with care by Barry and Shane McGuigan, who have been diligent in their roles as manager and trainer, respectively. Now the Belfast man has won the biggest fight of his life and kicked open the door to some serious paydays at 122 or 126 pounds.
“I knew it was going to be a boring fight but you can’t say that when it’s a pay-per-view event,” Frampton said. “I didn’t think it was close and I thought I won the first seven rounds. I’m happy to have a rematch but it’s down to what the public want. I would rather move on to bigger and better things. Leo Santa Cruz is an obvious fight for me and that could happen at junior featherweight or featherweight.”
Barry McGuigan said a rematch is unlikely.
“With all due respect to Scott, the rematch is not an attractive fight for us,” he said. “Leo Santa Cruz is definitely an option and it would be great if we could get him over here. That’s a big-money fight and he lets his punches go. That would be a fantastic fight. Right now, I believe that Carl Frampton is the best Irish fighter ever.”
For Quigg (31-1-2, 23 KOs) there will be a period of convalescing. This was a high stakes appointment between domestic rivals and defeat will sting for a long time. Can he bounce back? Unquestionably. A loss to a championship level fighter came with the territory in the glory days and this reporter expects the hard-hitting Englishman to have continued success in the sport he so desperately loves.
Quigg said he suffered a jaw injury in the fourth round.
“I felt in control early,” Quigg said. “Carl was a bit busier but nothing was landing. I got caught with a peach of an uppercut in the fourth and it’s done my jaw. That changed things in terms of my game plan and (as a result) I waited too long to go through the gears. One judge voted for me and saw it the way I did but, fair play, two judges scored it for Carl. I want the rematch; he’s beaten me and I want to fight him again. I’m putting on an act for you (the media) but I’m devastated.”
Joe Gallagher, Quigg’s trainer, learned after the seventh round that his fighter was in trouble.
“I had it even after four and then we found out that Sky Sports had Scott 6-1 down (after seven),” he said. “Fights always start slow and then build up like a freight train. The shot to the jaw in the fourth was a curve ball we weren’t expecting but Scott had Carl out on his feet in the 11th. We’re ready to do it again.”
That includes Eddie Hearn, Quigg’s promoter.
“I think there will be a rematch,” he said. “If we can get another fight with 12 rounds as good as the last five in this one, then we’ll all be happy. We don’t know if Scott’s jaw is broken and hopefully it’s just a crack. When he watches Round 11 he will feel that he could have won that fight if he started faster. A rematch would be in Belfast, probably in an outdoor arena. Scott has at least three or four options but we’ll need to see about the injury.”
The official weights were Frampton 121.75 and Quigg 121.5.
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing